I see you. I know you are so, so tired of making rules for yourself only to break them in the same day. I know you want more for your life and have a sneaking suspicion that drinking isn’t helping.
Today, you tell yourself, today, I will not drink. It is time for a break. You wake with a headache, tired and with fuzzy memories of having one (or two or three) too many the night before. Why can’t you stick to the plan? Tonight will be different. Maybe you even make it a day or two abstaining. But then, the circle starts again.
School is out. The kids are fighting. No, make that screaming. And whining. Lord, the whining.
You can’t take it. You can’t be the referee any more. You’re done with arguing over screen time. Or battling over doing homework. Or explain yet again why a bath is necessary.
You just need to keep these kids alive through bedtime.
You feel yourself losing your cool, anxiety and even anger seeping in (if you actually allowed yourself to feel anger, which you don’t, since Perfect Moms don’t get angry). You feel yourself even sinking into despair, like the captain of a sinking ship without a crew.
You don’t have time to indulge in those feelings now! You tell yourself it’s not that bad, and realize you can make it through the next few hours a lot easier if you pour a tall glass of Chardonnay. You will try to go without tomorrow. You deserve this. You’ll be able to lighten up, put on some music, and steel yourself for the tyranny of dinnertime. You tell yourself it isn’t a problem; you aren’t an alcoholic. You were able to stop before… this really isn’t a big deal.
Okay, so you know that Perfect Mom would have a nutritious, well-balanced, sugar-free, organic, grass-fed, non-GMO, locally-sourced, kid-friendly and adult-friendly meal planned, shopped for, and ready to go.
Instead, you’re staring blankly at the fridge. Macaroni and carrot sticks? Sure. A little ranch dressing never killed anyone, right? Now that you’re feeling the effects of that glass of wine and you have a plan, dammit, you’re starting to feel better.
But what about a grown-up meal? With the wine now flowing, you take a sigh of relief. Maybe you even allow yourself to order takeout or you and your significant other, downing another glass to help numb the Perfect Mom in your brain that reminds you about the budget is tight, and you really should have planned ahead.
The glass is looking a little low, so you top it off once or twice. It isn’t a full glass if it wasn’t empty, right? You refill when no one else is looking, knowing that this hiding isn’t healthy, but after a little more wine you’ve numbed any doubt or guilt.
By the time dinner and bedtime is over, you’re ready to pass out in bed, already angry with yourself for being weak, for harming yourself, for taking on all of those extra calories.
Listen, mama. You are not the only one. There are so many of us out there that have been on this ride, and some of us have managed to get off. It is possible. There is nothing wrong with you. You are beautiful and amazing and you do deserve to be celebrated and and to take care of yourself. As I’m sure you already know, the wine is cold comfort. It promises relief, only to leave you feeling depressed, anxious, and ashamed.
Here is the truth: whether you are drinking a bottle a night, occasionally getting drunk, or only having a couple here and there, if you are questioning your drinking, it is for good reason. Your body and soul are sending you a message. Your best life is waiting for you, but you can only find it if you give up your numbing agent and face it head on.
Like you, I questioned my drinking for a long time. I would even go long periods without any alcohol, only to eventually wind up in the same cycle of numbing and regret. It has been 70 days since my last drink. I feel awake. I feel alive. I feel real.
Life continues to have its ups and downs. I still get frustrated with my kids and my husband at times. I still have that Perfect Mom in my brain making snarky comments when I put Lunchables in my kids’ lunch boxes. The difference is, I’m actually allowing myself to feel those emotions, to tell Perfect Mom to shut it, and make choices that support me, rather than add more weight to my back. Sometimes that means asking my husband for help, taking the time to meditate, walking around the block to clear my head, seeking support in one of the incredibly kind online communities, or writing in my journal.
You are not alone, and there is a way to break the cycle. Your goal may be to stop drinking once and for all, or you may just want to learn how to moderate or cut back. That’s okay. Our stories are all different. Know that you don’t have to identify as an alcoholic. There are many paths to sobriety and the choice is yours. There is not one “right” way.
When you’re serious about making a change, start with getting help. You don’t have to do this alone, and let’s be honest: if you’re only making rules for yourself and trying to lean on willpower, you’re more than likely going to break them when the going gets tough. Maybe it will be a rough day, a particularly sunny day, a fight with your spouse, a night alone in house, a night out with friends. We can all justify a drink for that “special occasion.”
In the spirit of a 30-day challenge, the Alcohol Experiment guides you through not drinking for 30 days. Through daily videos and journaling help you uncover the unconscious reasons why you drink and why we drink more than we want. You can commit to 30 days, and see where it goes from there.
Know that you are amazing and awesome and full of love and light. I see you and I love that you are listening to that inner self. Perfect Mom, but the real you. Nurture her and take care of her. She deserves it.